Glemsford Church Tower
An indignant Glemsford resident asked me to point out, after reading the piece on the tower of Melford church, that Glemsford's Church tower, which is quite the prettiest part of this ancient edifice was actually built in 1860, so shares the honour of the most spectacular rebuild with the toffs of Melford. We don't yet have much information about the previous tower, which was said to have been at least 50 feet higher and once topped by a steeple. In the 1850s it became badly cracked and dangerous and was pulled down and rebuilt, though there was not enough money to restore it to its' full height.
October 2nd 1860
On Tuesday last the foundation stone was laid for the new tower at Glemsford church, it was laid in the presence of a large number of clergy and gentry. There was a collection after the sermon which amounted to 45L 14s making with some previous subscriptions amounts to 345L. The contract for the tower is 700L. The builder is Mr Fordham of Melford and Mr Johnson of Bury is the architect.
The entire project took seven years, and a very fine job they made of it. The church is made up of a lots of 'bits' and the tower unifies all the diffierent architecture into a pleasing whole
May 7th 1867<
Glemsford church was reopened on Sunday after being closed for upwards of four years except for Divine service, the tower has been entirely rebuilt. A collection at the door amounted to 12L 11s 8d.
It was pleasing to witness the amount of coppers dropped into the plate by the labouring classes.
Now there is something curious going on here. This was, from these accounts, a complete rebuild of the tower from the base-up, a major six year project, supervised by an architect. It was not a restoration, and we know that the old tower was quite different. Yet Pevsner happily described it as 'Dec W Tower' and Birkin Hayward's authorititive work on the Suffolk Churches describes it a 14th Century. Because the standard of the work was so high, and the design so sympathetic, one can sympathise with the error. As people generally follow Pevsner, the mistake of attributing great age to the tower has been perpetuated in the various subsequent books about Suffolk Churches. If anyone has the time to sift through them it would be amusing to name and shame them in this column.